Understanding factors that influence throwing speed and accuracy is critical to performance in baseball. Shoulder proprioception has been implicated in the injury risk of throwing athletes but no such link has been established with performance outcomes. The purpose of this study was to describe any relation between shoulder proprioception acuity and throwing speed or accuracy. Twenty healthy elite adolescent male baseball players (19.6 +/- 2.6 yrs) having represented the state of New South Wales in the past 18 months were assessed for bilateral active shoulder proprioception (shoulder rotation in 90[degrees] of arm abduction moving towards external rotation using the Active Movement Extent Discrimination Apparatus), maximal throwing speed (m/s measured via radar gun) and accuracy (total error in cm determined by video analysis) at 80% and 100% of maximal throwing speed. While proprioception in the dominant and non-dominant arms were significantly correlated with one another (r = 0.54, p < 0.01), no relationship was found between shoulder proprioception and performance. Shoulder proprioception was not a significant determinant of throwing performance such that high levels of speed and accuracy were achieved without a high degree of proprioception. There is no evidence to suggest therefore that this particular method of shoulder proprioception measurement should be implemented in clinical practice. Consequently, clinicians are encouraged to consider proprioception throughout the entire kinetic chain rather than the shoulder joint in isolation as a determining factor of performance in throwing athletes.
Copyright (C) 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.